Belgium appoints Alexia Bertrand as new Budget State Secretary

Following the resignation of Eva De Bleeker (Open VLD) due to budget errors, Alexia Bertrand was sworn in as Belgium's new Secretary of State for Budget and Consumer Protection on Friday. In the same move, the MR (French-speaking liberals) politician crossed Belgium's language border and became a member of Flanders' liberal party Open Vld.

"I feel a very great sense of responsibility and am aware that it will be a great challenge," new State Secretary for Budget Alexia Bertrand (MR/Open VLD) said during a press conference marking her appointment. Bertrand succeeds Eva De Bleeker, who had to resign after a succession of errors in budget preparation and disclosure. 

The 43-year-old Bertrand is the daughter of Luc Bertrand, CEO of the holding company Ackermans & van Haaren and a resounding name in the business world. Alexia Bertrand herself also serves as a non-executive director at AvH. She first ventured into politics in 2012. Until Friday, Bertrand was the group leader of the French-speaking liberal party MR in the Brussels Regional Parliament. 

For that latter reason, it came as a surprise that Bertrand is following in De Bleeker's footsteps. The party of her predecessor - and thus the party that got to decide on De Bleeker's succession - is the Flemish liberal party Open Vld. Bertrand will now go on to be a member of both Open Vld and MR. 

Although some political families have close ties across regional borders in Belgium, the language border cuts deep among others, including between the country's liberal parties. However, Open Vld chairman Egbert Lachaert stressed that the link between his party and the bilingual Bertrand had been there for some time.



Alexia Bertrand during a press conference regarding her appointment as Belgian State Secretary for Budget and Consumer Protection © BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK



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